Saturday, July 05, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Counterfeit Plan (1957) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Zachary Scott plays a deadly criminal mastermind operating in '50s England in the engrossing film THE COUNTERFEIT PLAN (1957), just released by the Warner Archive.

THE COUNTERFEIT PLAN has a stylish opening credits sequence, with titles appearing on a counterfeit press, followed by a slam-bang action sequence. Convicted murderer Max Brant (Scott) is being transported by French police when the car is waylaid; Brant is rescued by his confederates and quickly flown to England in a small private plane.

The plane lands at an estate owned by Max's former colleague, Louie Bernard (Mervyn Johns). Louie, a master engraver, has retired from criminal activities and lives a respectable life; his daughter Carole (Peggie Castle) has no idea of her father's unsavory past.

Max moves in on Louie and forces him to make plates as part of a scheme to make a fortune by quickly flooding Britain with phony five pound notes. Matters are complicated when Carole arrives home from Italy unexpectedly, followed by her fiance Bob (Robert Arden).

THE COUNTERFEIT PLAN is very much in the style of "Hammer Noir" films such as TERROR STREET (1953) or Scott's previous film WINGS OF DANGER (1953), being a crime film shot in England with a pair of American leads and an otherwise British cast.

The film is almost a crime procedural, showing the detailed planning of the massive counterfeit operation, which is punctuated by occasional moments of violence. Late in the film the focus shifts as bankers begin noticing unusual quantities of five pound notes deposited by merchants and a police operation is put into motion.

I enjoyed this film very much and recommend it to anyone who enjoys '50s British crime films as much as I do. While I prefer Scott in his periodic "good guy" roles, he excelled at sleaze, and indeed, this may be the darkest character I've seen him portray yet. He's an unrepentant killer who cares about nothing but stealing a whole lot of money -- and maybe trying to force himself on Carole.

I always like seeing Peggie Castle turn up in a film, and she does a nice job as a woman caught in a nightmare, with escape attempts thwarted while she attempts to keep her father and boyfriend alive. The fact that she's a talented artist and her father's hands aren't as steady as they used to be puts her in a very difficult situation, as Brant forces her to take over the engraving job from her father.

As a side note, while Scott's character could have been from anywhere and his American accent was not an issue, Castle's lack of a British accent was never addressed.

This 80-minute film was written by James Eastwood and directed by Montgomery Tully (TERROR STREET). The supporting cast includes Sydney Tafler, Eric Pohlmann, Lee Patterson, John Welsh, and Chili Bouchier. Watch for Bernard Fox as a police sergeant -- he is better known to classic TV fans as Dr. Bombay from BEWITCHED.

The Warner Archive DVD shows off the nice black and white widescreen print, filmed by Phil Grindrod. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.


Blogger dfordoom said...

Sounds like great fun! I do enjoy British crime moves of this era.

3:25 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

If you like '50s British crime films I'm guessing you'll like this one! Good stuff. :)

Best wishes,

11:23 PM  

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